Ralph Branca then
Ralph Theodore Joseph Branca was born on January 6, 1926 in Mount Vernon. He was the fifteenth of seventeen children. He was signed by the Dodgers after a local tryout.
Ralph’s father, John Branca, came to America from Italy. Ralph’s mother, Katherine Berger, was born in Hungary. Ralph married Ann Mulvey in 1951. Her parents owned a share of the Dodgers, and her maternal grandfather had been president of the Brooklyn Club.
The Brooklyn Dodgers signed Branca out of the New York University in 1943, when he was just seventeen years old.
In 1947 the twenty-one-year-old Branca became the second-youngest National Leaguer to win 20 games.
Branca was involved in two of the biggest moments in baseball history. One was the integration of baseball by Jackie Robinson in 1947, and the other was as the man who threw the pitch hit for a home run by Bobby Thompson that won the 1951 National League pennant for the New York Giants.
In January 2001, joshua Praeger, a reporter for the Wall Street journal published the details of a sign-stealing scheme the Giants rigged in the Polo Grounds. The scheme involved a telescope from windows in the center-field clubhouse, a buzzer rigged under dirt in the bullpen, and a reserve catcher positioning his body and equipment to tip-off the batter as to which pitch was coming.
Branca said his friendship with Jackie Robinson continued after baseball. They played golf together when they worked in Manhattan and saw each other a lot while Jackie was with Chock Full of Nuts.
Ralph Branca now
Check out Ralph’s website at http://www.ralphbranca.com/ and his book:
Ref: SABR.org, book: ‘The Team that forever Changed Baseball and America The 1947 Brooklyn dodgers” Note: I am loving this book!
Chris Haughey Then
Chris Haughey was born in Astoria, New York on October 3, 1925. he was pitching in the Queens CYO League when the Dodgers signed him midway through the 1943 season.
Without throwing a ball in the minors, Haughey made his major league debut on October 3, 1943 against the Cincinnati Reds at Crosley Field – the last day of the season and Haughey’s 18th birthday. He hurled seven innings in the 6-1 loss but only three of those runs were earned.
Before the start of the next season, on February 15, 1944, Haughey entered military service with the Army. Here is this from Baseballinwartimes.com:
He was assigned to a Cavalry Replacement Company at Fort Riley, Kansas, but a dispute with a commanding officer ruined his chances of playing with other professional players on the base team. For the next three years, Haughey was a communications instructor, training radio operators.
When he was discharged from the Army in 1946, Haughey was out of practice and his arm was out of shape. He was assigned to Montreal of the International League but released to Asheville of the Tri-State League in May where he was 0-2.
Chris Haughey Now
Haughey later obtained a degree in engineering from FordhamUniversity and worked as an operations manager for a New York oil company. He later spent 20 years as part owner of a men’s clothing store in Salinas, California before moving to Fremont where he continues to live.
I could not find a current picture.
Ref: Baseballinwartime.com, Baseball-fever.com, Baseball Prospectus
Wayne Terwilliger then and now.
Wayne Terwilliger then.
I love that picture with Maury Wills!
He signed his first professional baseball contract, with the Cubs, in September, 1948, one month after Babe Ruth died. He reported to Des Moines Cubs.
In 1949, Twig reported to spring training with the Los Angeles Cubs of the Triple A Pacific Coast League. By August he was the Chicago Cubs starting second baseman.
Terwilliger played nine seasons with five major league teams, mostly as a second baseman. He also played for six minor league teams, and managed 11 minor league teams. During his 12 years as a coach in the majors, he received World Series rings from the Minnesota Twins in 1987 and 1991.
When Terwilliger was 18, he saw action with the Marines in the Pacific during World War II.
Wayne Terwilliger now
Wayne Terwilliger now (as of 2005)
In 2005, Twig became the second man ever to manage at age 80, led the Ft Worth Cats to a league championship, posted a franchise record for wins, was Manager of the Year, got an earring (really?), and published his autobiography “Terwilliger Bunts One”
Player: Cubs (1949-51), Dodgers (1951), Senators (1953-54), Giants (1955-56), KC Athletics (1959-60), and 6 teams in the minors. DETAILS
Coach: Senators (1969-71), Rangers (1972, 1981-85), Twins (1986-94), St. Paul Saints (1995-2002), Ft. Worth Cats (2006-2010). DETAILS
Manager: Managed 12 minor-league teams; 1,224-1,089 record including 2005 Central League championship
As with all the living Brooklyn Dodger players that I have been researching and writing the Then and Now, this was also lots of fun reading about Twig. At the same time I learning about our Boys of Summer.
Twig make a pact with Jim Hollars -the Cats’ chaplain, that if they won the championship, they’d both have their ears pierced. Well Jim’s wife said “Not on your life” but Twig said his wife (Lin) had always joked about him getting his ear pierced.
If you like to get his book look on online or for an autographed copy, send $20 to Terwilliger Bunts One, 1909 Clear Creek Drive, Weatherford, TX 76087
ref: New York Times, www.terwilliger.com
Thankfully the list of Brooklyn players alive is still the same number as when I updated the list as of January 2013. The only thing is that I updated the list to include the years the players played for the Dodgers. I got a comment asking me if I knew who of the Dodger players that are alive played with Jackie Robinson in 1947. Robert knew Ralph Branca did, but he wanted to know who else. The other two are Don Lund and Marv Rackley.
So here is the updated list with what years each of these players played for the Dodgers.
Clike on the following link to open the worksheet.
Brooklyn players Alive as of Jan 2013 New.xls
the list was not lining up correctly here so I added the link but if anyone can’t open the above link, here is the way is showing up here:
Name Birthplace. Born Uni# Played for Dodgers
Mike Sandlock Old Greenwich, CT. 10/17/1915 1,4 1945 – 1946
Ray Hathaway Grinville, OH. 10/13/1916 22 1945
Lee Pfund Oak Park ILL. 10/10/1919 14 1945
Luis Olmo Puerto Rico. 10/11/1919 21 1943-1945.1949
Jean-Pierre Roy Canada. 6/26/1920 34 1946
Pat McGlothin Coalfield, TN. 10/20/1920 23 1949-1950
Andy Pafko Boiceville, IL. 2/25/1921 22,48 1951-1952
Marv Rackley Seneca, SC. 7/25/1921 35 1947-1949
Chuck Kress Philadelphia. 12/9/1921 5 1954
Eddie Basinksi Buffalo, NY. 11/4/1922 3 1944-1945
Don Lund Detroit, Mi. 5/18/1923 40 1945,1947-1948
Tim Thompson Coalport, PA. 3/1/1924 21 1954
George Shuba Youngstown, OH. 12/13/1924 8 1948-1950,1952-1955
Johnny Rutherford Ontario, CN. 5/5/1925 15 1952
Wayne Terwilliger Clare, Mi. 6/27/1925 34 1951
Chris Haughey Astoria, NY. 10/3/1925 14 1943
Ralph Branca Mount Vernon, NY. 1/6/1926 13,20,28 1944-1953, 1956
Bob Borkowski Dayton, OH. 1/27/1926 27 1955
Randy Jackson Little Rock, AR. 2/10/1926 2 1956-1958
Dick Teed Springfield, MA. 3/8/1926 37 1953 One At Bat
Don Newcombe Madison, NJ. 6/14/1926 36 1949-1951, 1954-1958
Bobby Morgan Oklahoma city. 6/29/1926 2 1950, 1952-1953
Charlie Osgood Sommerville, MA 11/23/1926 20 1944
Carl Erskine Anderson, IN. 12/13/1926 17 1948-1959
Preston Ward Columbia, MO. 7/24/1927 36 1948
Rocky Bridges Refugio, TX. 8/7/1927 9 1951-1952
Tommy Lasorda Norristown, PA. 9/22/1927 2,27,29 1954-1955
Tommy Brown Brooklyn, NY. 12/6/1927 9 1944-1945. 1947- 1951
Joe Landrum Columbia, SC. 12/13/1928 19 1950, 1952
Joe Pignatano Brooklyn, NY. 8/4/1929 58 1957-1960
Roger Craig Durham, NC. 2/17/1930 38 1955-1961
Ron Negray Akron, OH. 2/26/1930 38 1952, 1958
Glenn Mickens Wilman, CA 7/26/1930 46 1953
Don Zimmer Cincinnati, OH. 1/17/1931 23 1954-1959, 1963
Ed Roebuck East Millboro, PA 7/3/1931 37 1956-1958, 1960-1963
Fred Kipp Iqua, KS. 10/1/1931 26 1957-1959
Chico Fernandez Cuba. SS. 3/2/1932 3 1956
Jim Gentile San Francisco, CA 6/3/1934 38 1957-1958
Don Demeter Oklahoma City. OK 6/25/1935 2 1956, 1958-1961
Sandy Koufax Brooklyn, NY. 12/30/1935 32 1955-1966
Bob Aspromonte Brooklyn, NY. 6/19/1938 28, 34 1956, 1960-1961
Rod Miller Portland, OR. 1/16/1940 50 1957 One at Bat
P.S. The next Brooklyn Dodger from this list that I will post about is Wayne Terwilliger.
Johnny Rutherford then
Johnny Rutherford was born on Tuesday, May 5, 1925, in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. Rutherford was 26 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 30, 1952, with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Rutherford pitched both as a starter and reliever for the pennant-winning 1952 Dodgers. He made his major league debut in relief against the Cardinals at Sportsman Park. His first major league win came a week later, also in relief, in a 5–4 decision over the Cincinnati Reds at Ebbets Field.
At the plate, he batted .290 (9-for-31) with 3 runs batted in and 3 runs scored.
Rutherford made one appearance in the 1952 World Series He pitched one inning in Game # 4 and gave up one hit (a Mickey Mantle triple) and one earned turn.
Johnny Rutherford now
I looked everywhere for a current picture of Johnny Rutherford but I could not find one
George Shuba then
Shuba, the youngest of 10 children, grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, in a family of Czechoslovakian descent. He developed a love for baseball at six years old. Instead of playing in an organized little league, he and the neighbor kids played ball right in the street.
He attended Catholic grammar school at Holy Name Elementary in Youngstown. He recalls the nuns being very strict, which helped him become disciplined at a young age. His brother was a priest, so he was constantly surrounded by Catholic influences.
George Shuba now
Before every meal, Shuba and his family would recite a Slovak prayer — a tradition started by his mother and brother. He continued to say this prayer each day during his baseball career and still carries on the tradition to this day.
In the mid-1940s when young men were being shipped around the globe during World War II, Shuba was dealt a different hand. He sustained an ear injury while being disciplined by one of his teachers as a child, so he was unable to enter the U.S. Army. Instead, Shuba attended an open Dodgers’ tryout in 1943 at age 17, after finding out about it from his friends on the street.
“They said, ‘George, you should go try out at Borts Field (Youngstown). You’re good enough.’” Shuba said. “I really didn’t think I was, but I went and hit a few out of bounds and a couple of fouls out of the park.”
Though Shuba signed with the Dodgers following his tryout, his father, Jan, was not on board with the decision to pursue a lofty career path. Jan worked at the mills in Youngstown, a steel-manufacturing town.
“He (Jan) wanted me to work at the mills where I could have a steady job,” Shuba said. “But I had dreams of being a professional ball player. I really believed I could.”
Shuba worked on his swing every night by hanging a rope from his ceiling and tying knots to represent the strike zone.
“I would swing a 44-ounce bat 500 times a night between the knots,” Shuba said. “When it came to batting practice the next day, I was already ready!”
Shuba gained a reputation for hitting hard line drives all over the field. According to Roger Kahn in his book, The Boys of Summer, the nickname “Shotgun” evolved from Shuba’s “spraying line drives with a swing so compact that it appeared as natural as a smile.”
Check out George “Shotgun”Shuba website at http://www.georgeshuba.com/bookcover.shtml
Ref: http://thetablet.org/faith-inspires-shotgun-shubas-baseball-dream/ OOTdevelopments’s first picture.
Getting back to my project of doing a post on all the surviving Brooklyn Dodgers.
This one is #12 of 42 going from oldest to youngest.
Tim Thompson then
Charles Lemoine Thompson (Tim) was a catcher. He was born in Coalport, PA on March 1, 1924. His debut was on April 20, 1954 and his final Game April 27, 1958. He wore uniform #21.
Thompson was finally called up to Ebbets Field with the Dodgers for the first time at age 30 in 1954. He talked about his big league debut. “My first game was the only time I ever played in the outfield. It was in St. Louis. Dick Williams was ejected, and I was the only one left on the bench. Steve Bilko lined a single and I thought I nailed Dick Schofield at the plate with a good throw, but he slid between Roy Campanella’s legs to score. I kidded Campy that if he had blocked the plate I would have been a hero.”
Tim, who had just two base hits in 13 at-bats for the Dodgers would spend the rest of the year with the Montreal Royals hitting .305 in 75 games. He spent 1955 with the St. Paul Saints of the American Association, hitting .313 and catching 121 games. This got him traded to the Kansas City Athletics on April 16, 1956 for Tom Saffell, Lee Wheat and cash. Thompson spent 1956 and 1957 with the Kansas City Athletics and would finish out his major league run with he Detroit Tigers in 1958 with a career .238 batting average in 187 games. He also finished with a fine fielding percentage of .990.
Thompson would spend the remainder of his active baseball career with the AAA Toronto Maple Leafs retiring from active play after 1962 with a 14 year minor league career .293 batting average in 1,426 games and a fielding percentage of .991.
Tim Thompson now
Following a few years as a player-coach and manager at Toronto, he was a scout and later a supervisor of scouting for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1964 to 1994. He spent the rest of the 1990s in the Dodgers organization as a scout and since 2000 he has worked in the same capacity for the Baltimore Orioles. As of last notice he was residing in Lewiston, Pennsylvania. Note: I could not find a current picture of Mr. Thompson.
I am getting back to honoring the Brooklyn Dodgers that are alive so here is #12 in my list from oldest to youngest.
Don Lund then
Donald Andrew Lund was a backup outfielder for the Brooklyn Dodgers, St Louis Browns and Detroit Tigers. He was born in Detroit on May 18, 1931. He shares a birthday with my dear aunt Nora and my friend Sandi who is a St. Louis Cardinal fan.
From Baseball Reference.com:
Outfielder Don Lund earned nine letters at the University of Michigan and was also drafted by the Chicago Bears. After his playing career ended, he was a Detroit Tigers coach in 1957 and 1958. He was then the Tigers’ farm director in 1963, Scouting director in 1964, and director of player development from 1965 to 1970.
The young Lund attracted attention in 1947, a pennant-winning year for the Brooklyn Dodgers, when he went 6 for 20, slugging .700 with 2 doubles and 2 homers. He did not appear in post-season play. Lund was one of 11 players used in left field by the Dodgers that season, who never did pick a regular left-fielder in the late 1940s.
His year with the most major league at-bats was 1953, when he hit .257 in 421 at-bats with the Tigers. Al Kaline was an 18-year-old rookie that year, and the following year Kaline became a regular, while Lund was a backup.
checking the Dodgers media guide, Mr. Don Lund wore uniforms #8 #17 #25 #40. He was in 4 games in 1945, 11 games in 1947 and 27 games in 1948. He went to the Tigers in 1948.
Don Lund now.
I did not know that there is a SABR chapter called Don Lund Chapter! the Don Lund Chapter serves the Southeastern Michigan area. Very nice!
Also in 1997 SABR conference #27 in Louisville, Kentucky saw a player panel highlighted by Pee Wee Reese that also featured Ed Stevens and Don lund. Jim Bunning was the keynote speaker.
Found this book also about Don Lund:
James Robert Irwin
Saint James Books, 2009
From everything I read about Mr. Lund, he is another terrific person.
Ref: Baseballreference.com mgoblue.com, Annarbor.com
Eddie Basinski then
Basinski was born on 11/4/1922 in Buffalo, NY. He wore uniform #3 for the Dodgers.
Eddie was signed after a tryout by the Dodgers out of the University of Buffalo even though he hadn’t played baseball in either high school or College.
Eddie debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944. He was the Dodgers regular shortstop while Pee Wee Reese was in the military in 1945 but lost his job when World War II ended an Reese returned.
According to Baseball-Refernces:
He made a prototypical rookie mistake when first coming up to the National League: hitting .389 after two weeks, he told a reporter that “Any man who can’t hit .300 in this league ought to go get a lunch bucket.” Opposing pitchers never let him live down those words.
Eddie spent the off-season as a violinist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.
Eddie Basinksi now
Here is a video of Portland Baseball history with Eddie Basinski and Vince Peski. Eddie tells some wonderful stories that had me cracking up.
Ad here is a another video. A wonderful interview of Eddie Baskinksi by KrisPorterSports. In there he talks about Branch Richie & Leo Durocher.
Ref: NewYorkTimes.com, Oregonlives.com, KrisPorterSports
Chuck Kress then
Charles Steven Kress was born in Philadelphia on December 9, 1921. He wore uniform #5.
Chuck Kress served in the U. S. Army from 1943 to 1945. Kress was a first baseman 17 seasons from 1940 to 1959, four in the Major Leagues and 16 in the minors.
He played first base for the Cincinnati Reds in 1947 & 1949.
With the Chicago White Sox from 1949 to 1950.
Detroit Tigers 1954.
On 06-09-1954, The Brooklyn Dodgers traded Wayne Belardi to the Detroit Tigers for Ernie Nevel, Johnny Bucha and Chuck Kress. Kress had 12 at bats with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954 and batted .083.
Kress managed the following teams in the Minor Leagues:
1957: The Erie Sailors from the New York-Pen League of the Detroit Tigers.
1958: Durham Bulls from the Carolina Leagues of the Detroit Tigers.
1959: Des Moines Demons of the Three-I Leagues of the Philadelphia Phillies
1960: Asheville Tourists of the South Atlanta League of the Philadelphia Phillies
1961: Des Moines Demons of the Three-I Leagues of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Chuck Kress now
From Kentuckybaseball.blogspot as posted on November 2, 2009:
Chuck Kress, who played with the Reds, White Sox, Tigers and Brooklyn Dodgers responded to some questions for me.
He mentioned that his favorite team is the Mariners. His favorite recent player is Edgar Martinez.
Chuck did say that he had a lot of great memories relating to his time with that legendary Brooklyn team. Mr. Kress notes that he is proud of the fact that he got to play with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Duke Snyder, and manager Walter Austin.
He does remember playing in Louisville when he was with Columbus of the American Association.
ref: baseball-fever.com, fangraph, kentuckybaseball.blogspot, baseball-reference, OOtbaseball, WalterOMalley.com, baseball-almanac